Following the huge success of the Netball World Cup over the last 10 days, Severn Stars can today announce that it has appointed New Zealander Melissa Bessell as its new Head Coach.
Bessell, nee Hyndman, will start her new role in September, leading the University of Worcester and University of Gloucestershire co-owned team for the first time at the British Fast5 All-Stars Championships in October. She takes over from Sam Bird, who moved on at the end of last season.
She said: “I am hyper-excited to be taking on this role. Stars have done a fantastic job in the Vitality Superleague since their inception and I am thrilled to be working with them. I’ve been out of the League in a head coaching role for a few years now and the time was right. Working with a young, exciting franchise, while having the support of the University of Worcester and the University of Gloucestershire, was a no-brainer.
The news comes as five-time world champions New Zealand lifted the world cup trophy at the end of a thrilling 10 days of netball yesterday in Liverpool.
Bessell, whose coaching career spans more than 30 years, said Stars fans could expect a side that would be “dynamic, disciplined and fit, with a smile”.
She added: “My ambition for the coming season is to build a new culture, play some dynamic netball while putting out some top class performances.”
Bessell played herself at international level, representing the New Zealand Maoris. She started her coaching career working her way up through the age groups of the national side in New Zealand, eventually coaching the New Zealand Maori National Team.
She went on to coach the Fiji national side for two years, then to coach the Wales national team for four years, who went from 19th to 8th in the world under her instruction and gained Commonwealth Games qualification. The team also won Gold at Netball Europe. Alongside this, she coached the Celtic Dragons team in the Vitality Netball Superleague, who reached their first ever Grand Final with her in 2013.
Bessell went on to become Director of Netball for Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate in Yorkshire, taking them to success, winning the National School Championship competition. Alongside this, she continued to support grassroots level netball, as Head Coach of NW Panthers Netball Club based in Chester, a role she will continue in.
Bessell was Assistant Coach at Team Northumbria in the 2017/2018 season and at new Superleague side London Pulse last season so has seen Stars in action up-close. “They are a very talented, exciting group of athletes and I cannot wait to work with them, especially with the blend of some new faces to the franchise for this season,” said Bessell.
“I am looking forward to walking out at the first home game with the new team and the Stars supporters. There is nothing better than the home fans’ support.”
Severn Stars’ Co-Director of Netball, Anita Navin, said: “A key priority in the recruitment process was to appoint a coach who had a strong tactical profile and I am thrilled we have secured Melissa. Her ability to develop individual players into a successful team has been confirmed on many occasions at performance level. I am confident she will bring a game style fitting to take Severn stars to the next level in the quest to be challenging the top four teams. Melissa also has a passion to develop local potential and, with interaction and engagement in the pathway, we will no doubt see a more competitive performance all round.”
Thank you to Northumbria University for the use of the photo.